Artist Spotlight

These lively Q&A's aim to shed light on the personalities behind the music. Get to know your favorite artists...or discover someone new!


Artist Spotlight
November 3, 2009

Texas-born mezzo-soprano Susan Graham is no stranger to these parts. Since 1990, she has sung everything from Monteverdi to Jake Heggie in six different productions with San Francisco Opera, performed several times in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, and sung two recitals here. Most recently, she brought an uncommonly gentle and intimate touch to Mahler’s five Rückert Lieder, recorded in performance for future release in the Symphony’s Mahler series.

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Artist Spotlight
October 27, 2009

On November 7, 2004, Sara Jobin made opera history by becoming the first woman to conduct a San Francisco Opera main stage production. The opera was Tosca, and Jobin has since conducted the company’s performances of The Flying Dutchman, Norma, and Appomattox, as well as the S.F. Opera–Cal Performances coproduction of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince.

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Artist Spotlight
October 20, 2009

Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony for eight years, violinist Alexander Barantschik has won the hearts of patrons with his wide range of talent. As soloist, conductor, and section leader, “Sasha,” as his colleagues call him, has become something of a rock star at Davies Symphony Hall. Classical Voice recently asked him about his upcoming performances of Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concertos (Nov. 18-20) and his life as a leader.

How is playing in the San Francisco Symphony different from playing with other orchestras you’ve been with?

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Artist Spotlight
October 13, 2009

Renaissance music aficionado William Lyons is known for his work with the Dufay Collective and as music director of London’s Globe Theatre. On Oct. 18, MusicSources presents his new ensemble, City Musick, in its first American tour.


Where did you grow up, and what bearing did that have on your becoming an early-music freak?

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Artist Spotlight
October 12, 2009

Robert Geary is expanding the envelope of modern choral music, building a body of repertoire by commissioning and performing new music with his three groups — Volti, the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, and the San Francisco Choral Society. On Oct. 18, the proud papa of Volti celebrates the group’s 30th anniversary with a special CD release and gala. SFCV caught up with him recently for a conversation.


What inspired you to start Volti?

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Artist Spotlight
October 6, 2009

The founders of the summer music festival [email protected] are returning to the Peninsula this fall. Wu Han and David Finckel, along with Anthony McGill, are performing on Oct. 11 at the opening of the new Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Menlo-Atherton High School. It’s a state-of-the-art building, and, says Wu Han, “I can’t wait to play there.”


How did you become involved with this project?

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Artist Spotlight
September 29, 2009

This week Bay Area music lovers can look forward to two events featuring the music and scholarship of baritone Thomas Hampson. Tuesday evening, he will be joined at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music by curators from the Library of Congress to discuss their collaboration celebrating the history of American song. Wednesday he will perform a concert at Herbst Theatre with pianist Wolfram Rieger, titled “Song of America.” Hampson took time out from his preparations to discuss the project, the relationship between poetry and music, and his latest e-book download.

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Artist Spotlight
September 28, 2009

In his fourth decade as a violinist and as both founder and artistic director of the award-winning Kronos Quartet, David Harrington still exudes the infectious excitement of a gifted student infatuated with experimental and global music from beyond the conservatory’s walls. At Howard’s Café, up the street from Kronos headquarters near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Harrington sits down with me to share memories, opinions, and coffee, as well as the ensemble’s program for its Oct.

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Artist Spotlight
September 21, 2009

When Christopher Honett left the East Coast this summer to start his new job at the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the journey felt like a homecoming. That’s not just because Honett was born and raised in the Bay Area. Joining the venerable new music ensemble, he says, gives him the opportunity to do the kind of work he’s always wanted to do.

Honett, 32, was named the organization’s executive director in July. He succeeds Adam Frey, who served as SFCMP’s top administrator for 18 years.

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Artist Spotlight
September 21, 2009

Christine Brewer is coming to town. Her upcoming recital for Cal Performances on Sept. 27 will feature the music of Berg, Strauss, and Britten, along with some old chestnuts favored by big-voiced sopranos of the last century. She was happy to be back home in St. Louis for a couple of weeks, as I caught up with her to chat about her life as world-class dramatic soprano, mother and ... Hootenanny hostess.

You started out singing in the chorus with Opera Theatre St. Louis. At what point did you feel that you had what it takes to be a soloist?

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